Published: Mon, June 26, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Tusk Says May Plan Would Reduce Rights of EU Citizens in UK

German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted that the EU's future take priority over Brexit talks as Prime Minister Theresa May met European leaders for the first time since a disastrous election gamble.

"Last night I was pleased to be able to set out what is a very fair and a very serious offer for European Union citizens who are living in the United Kingdom", she said, adding that she would issue detailed proposals on Monday and seek reciprocal rights for about one million Britons living on the continent.

It is not yet clear exactly what rights those people would be entitled to but it is understood they would have the right to stay in the country and receive healthcare, education, welfare and pensions as if they were British citizens.

Britain is also leaving open the question of the "cut-off date" from which the rights will no longer apply, saying only that it will be some time between March 29 this year, when it began the departure process, and the date it leaves.

But many expat groups in Britain criticised the proposals as being scant on detail and not promising the freedoms they now enjoy.

May however defended the proposal.

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The cabinet minister said the United Kingdom wants a continuation of the existing European Health Insurance Card system, which would also allow EU citizens in this country to access the NHS.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had his fair share of support (26 per cent), while Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson polled 13 per cent and Home Secretary Amber Rudd just two per cent.

Arguing that the European Council had not mentioned the court in its negotiating guidelines, but the Commission did in its interpretation, Davis said Britain could accept some arbitration but not under the current system. She is expected to present more details Monday when she addresses Parliament in London.

"We don't want a cat in the bag", he said. A lot of European citizens are concerned and not covered by May's proposal.

In particular, the EU 27 want their citizens to be able to enforce their rights in Britain through the European Court of Justice, something May has ruled out.

In a separate news conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron urged the member states to do more in this regard, with Macron saying the migration crisis was not only for some countries, and European Union states should deal with it jointly.

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She added: "But there are still many, many other questions linked to the exit, including on finances and the relationship with Ireland".

Meanwhile, EU migrants to Britain said that far from being "generous", Prime Minister Theresa May's offer for their post-Brexit future was stingy and would leave them prey to the whims of British lawmakers.

May has been forced to take a softer stance on Brexit since failing to secure an absolute majority in the June 8 election.

Juncker was asked if he knew what form of Brexit the government in London was now seeking, to which he replied: "No".

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni told reporters that May's offer was a sign of goodwill.

"From our point of view these will be enshrined in United Kingdom law, they will be enforced by the highly respected United Kingdom courts, and of course if this is an aspect of the withdrawal treaty it will be enshrined in worldwide law as well", she said.

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